This study examines the value of professional winter sports to the Austrian resident population in the context of three major sporting events (the 2017 World Championships in Alpine Skiing, the 2018 Winter Olympics, and the 2019 World Championships in Nordic Skiing). In nationwide population surveys (n = 2289), the contingent valuation method was employed, and the respondents were presented with two scenarios asking for their willingness-to-pay for live broadcasts and long-term athlete development. The aggregate willingness-to-pay amounted to €42 million (for live broadcasts) and about €800 million (for athlete development). However, only about 20% of the residents expressed a positive willingness-to-pay. The respondents’ willingness-to-pay is not only determined by well-studied factors like consumption capital, intangible factors, and socio-demographics, but also by life satisfaction. The willingness-to-pay for live broadcasts is comparably higher for alpine skiing, while the willingness-to-pay for athlete development is higher for Olympic winter sports athletes. The findings have implications for sport policy and sport finance, highlighting the challenge of turning public sport consumption into a willingness to contribute financially to sustainable athlete development.
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